Sunday, October 02, 2005

Will someone please create a good feedreader?

So, I've been getting increasingly frustrated about Bloglines. It's as if the founders cut and run the minute that Ask Jeeves bought them...

The Rant
We are moving from a web of searching through archives on big screens to syndicating to information about people places and things that matter to you. (And this will be on mobile devices rather than the big screen of course). And what tools do we have at our disposal? The modest feedreader. I haven't met one I liked. The crazy thing is that the same tool is needed in the enterprise and consumer space, for informing and for entertaining. So about all of the waking hours of those Web junkies that tend to influence things. Everything else (desktop apps, search engines) could be second fiddle to this interface if it is done well. I'm surprised at how little innovation there seems to be here.

The landscape
Frankly, it's thin pickings. Bloglines is so creaky I get frustrated everytime I go there, and wish they would hire some ajax / Ruby on Rails programmers. It's hard for me to easily delete and add feeds, no intelligence in presenting my feeds, no filtering... Firefox's sage is a bit better, but I have often have issues with Firefox (remembering passwords, getting stuck with firewalls etc). SharpReader and Newsgator do the plain vanilla OK but they are PC based (and NetNewsWire is Apple only), but I need it to be web-based. Google and MyYahoo are dabbling but have not delivered the kind of smooth experience that makes sense. In short, 37signals' Basecamp comes close to the user experience (not surprising since they basically invented Ruby on Rails) and I hope they are planning something like this.

(Similarly, blog creation tools are fairly flaky, but I guess that's going to have to be another post. The way that typepad allows the browser to navigate away from the post under construction (e.g. if you click a link in another app or hit the 'page back' button on the keyboard) has caused me to bounce off the ceiling numerous times. In that category, a good simple seems to be Ecto which lets you compose on the PC then post, but it shouldn't have to be a PC app.)

Hopefully some of the new web2.0 tools - such as findory, rollyo, loomia and other machine-generated names - will make strides in the right direction. I guess more announcements will be made at this week's event.

Anyway, here are some suggestions for a good feedreader:

  • One click sorting and filtering along the following axes:
    -- frequency - that I read them (default, most read rise to the top so I can easily cull the stuff at the bottom)
    -- alphabetical - the name of the podcast
    -- date added - when I added it
    -- readership - the size of their audience
    -- tags - so i can create categories on the fly
  • Easy flagging and tagging for later personal storage, management or sharing.
  • Use Ajax / Ruby on Railsto allow drag and drop e.g. to add feeds or throw away feeds you're no longer interested in (Apple-esque - would be nice to have a puff of smoke too).
  • Collaborative filters - guide me by what other people are viewing. Ideally, even communities that I create myself.
  • Smooth integration between blogs and podcasts - they're the same thing, when you have Blinkx turning video into text and text to speech.
  • Smooth integration with my mobile device - I can read and edit my feeds from either, and they will be updated on both. I can save clips / stories from my feeds on my mobile without leaving the page and marking all the feeds as read (as in
  • Ability to change the rules for certain blogs as 'I'm really interested in this' and if anything is posted here, send me an SMS, MMS, email or carrier pigeon (tick as appropriate). Same for when someone comments on my blog for blog creation tools
  • Transparent collaborative filters - don't just tell me what you think I'll like. Let me build up my suggestions from you in stages. Give me the top 50 feeds based on [Tech] and / or [mention "mobiles" ] and / or [come from India ] and / or [are read and rated by people I rate]

Update: Google just launched here at Web2.0. My first impressions about this are not that great - confusing UI, delays and minimal features. OK it does tags, but still. C'mon Google, impress us.

1 comment:

Vincent Foley said...

What about RSS Owl or BottomFeeder?